NEW DELHI: When Christian Michel James, the enigmatic British-born defence dealer, came on the radar of Indian agencies in the `3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam in January 2013, a government official noted it was possible to bring him to justice since foreign counterparts are cooperative.
The multi-agency probe, started in April 2013, followed by a stack of Letter Rogatories to various countries and non-bailable warrants, has resulted in endless days of waiting. Last month, intelligence officials armed with files on the deal, visited Dubai secretly to locate Michel. The files had incriminating evidence against Michel, who allegedly played a key role to swing the deal in favour of the Italian company AgustaWestland.
Assured of all possible assistance from the UAE, Indian officials shared details of his last known address and business venture, ‘Global Services FZE’ in Dubai. Four phone calls made by him on February 15 and June 5, 2010 to an Indian number were also shared to locate the address and identify the subscriber. Eleven other calls were made between July 27 and 28 in 2011. The CBI initiated the process of issuing a red corner notice against Michel, which carries a faded photograph.
Intelligence officials, according to top sources, are looking into key players meeting Michel in Dubai. They have sought details related to Christine Bredo Spliid, a Danish citizen who worked for Michel.
He was single shareholder of Beetle Nut, a company allegedly floated by Michel in October 2009 to launder kickbacks.
According to sources, Spliid’s footprints have been found in India and Dubai between 2010 and 2012 when the deal was signed with Agustawestland and alleged kickbacks were divided between middlemen Guido Haschke and Michel.
Sources said Spliid was in India in February 2012 and left for Dubai on an Emirates flight on February 20.
Officials want to examine details related to Spliid’s stay in Dubai, her local contacts and places he had visited. Spliid, after spending four days in Dubai, returned to Delhi on February 24, 2012 on Emirates flight 512 which reached Delhi at 2:40 am.
Intelligence officials want to know whether she tarvelled to Dubai again in January 2013 when the probe against Michel had started in India. Sources said Spliid reached Delhi on December 30, 2012 at 11:30 am and travelled to Dubai to meet Michel.
Agencies are also seeking details related to Praveen Bakshi’s stay in Dubai in November 2010. Bakshi, an accused in the chopper scam and CEO of Aeromatrix, made a trip to Dubai on November 20, 2010. Agencies suspect that Bakshi may have met Michel. They are also probing the stay of middleman Guido Haschke in Dubai.